Hi! I haven't been on Explorer of the Seas, but I was on Navigator of the Seas a couple of years ago. I really wanted to bring my ice skates so I could practice, but my parents wouldn't let me. When I got to the ice rink, the quality of the ice wasn't even good enough to actually practice spins and jumps, and it's always extremely crowded. And I ended up not even skating that much because it was too crowded, and there were so many other activities to do. I forgot if the skates are free, and I believe they are, but if I'm mistaken it's probably a very minimal fee. If you get an opportunity to see one of the Ice Skating shows, I would recommend it. If your son doesn't even end up skating, you don't want to end up lugging around a huge bag all around. You might have to pay even more at the airport for a skating bag. My team was going to a skating competition, and at the airport, of course we couldn't bring the skates onboard, so we had to pay extra to get them to the competition. And it turns out that the airline lost one girl's skates, and it would be a terrible thing to lose your skates. Good Luck and have a great cruise!